Xi Jinping tells China’s military ‘be prepared to respond’ in unstable times
- Stresses need for ‘high-level strategic deterrence’ and more tech innovation
- President’s remarks follow defence minister’s call for PLA to be battle ready amid ‘high-risk phase’
China’s military must be “prepared to respond” to complex and difficult situations as the country grapples with security challenges, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday.
“The current security situation of our country is largely unstable and uncertain,” Xi said. “The entire military must coordinate the relationship between capacity building and combat readiness, be prepared to respond to a variety of complex and difficult situations at any time, resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and provide strong support for the comprehensive construction of a modern socialist state.”
Xi also emphasised the need for “high-level strategic deterrence and a joint combat system”, and more technological innovation in the military.
The president’s remarks came after Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe on Saturday called for the military to boost combat readiness, saying China’s national security had “entered a high-risk phase”.
“We are facing mounting tasks in national defence … and we must comprehensively improve military training and preparedness for battle so as to increase our strategic capabilities to prevail over our strong enemies,” Wei told military delegates at a meeting on the sidelines of the legislative sessions.
“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is at a critical stage where we are facing unprecedented opportunities as well as unprecedented challenges,” he said. Wei also warned that US containment efforts would “last throughout the process of China’s national rejuvenation”.
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At the military meeting, Major General Yang Cheng – who served in the 73rd Group Army whose primary mission was presumed to be the conquest of Taiwan – said the PLA needed to strengthen its early warning and reconnaissance efforts and consolidate control over the country’s borders.
Zhao Baorui, political commissar of the Western Theatre Command which covers the frontier with India, also called for more military funds for the border region to speed up construction of airports, roads and training bases.
Breaking the US’ “chokehold” on technology was another key discussion topic at the meeting. Navy chief Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong said that to win a future war, China’s military must strengthen its ability to use innovative technologies and that more state support was needed for key industries and projects.
The PLA has undergone a sweeping overhaul in recent years and its modernisation drive is ongoing – President Xi has said it should be completed by 2035, with a target of having a “world-class military” by 2050.